“I’m the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy,” declares a terse FBI agent played by Wahlberg in Scorsese’s 2006 The Departed. This time he, with Will Ferrel in tow, is the other guy.
The cross-over to comedy does not come easily to Wahlberg, whose attempts at comedic intensity and anger translate as trying too hard. Ferrel struggles to find a rhythm with him, thus the entire set-up of The Other Guys is based on a double-act that audibly creaks in its need for lubrication.
The Other Guys starts strong with a highly comedic action sequence starring Samuel L. Jackson (on form, as usual) and Dwayne “No Longer Using The Rock In Quotation Marks” Johnson. The over-the-top spectacular sets the bar just out of reach of the rest of the film, but its explosive energy and lead-up to a hilarious and brilliantly shot exit for Jackson and Johnson almost makes the film worth it all by itself.
Careening from extreme to extreme for the next 40 minutes, the film struggles to find its way as Ferrel’s would-be potent monologues fall flat against Wahlberg’s stiff demeanour. It is not until the pair become buddies that The Other Guys finds a comfortable rhythm. Though it has its moments, one of the film’s main flaws is the repetition of jokes that fail to gain traction, from musical interludes to unintentional lyrical references and mimicries of, “Wait, did he just say [this unfunny statement]?!”
What The Other Guys does execute well are the slow-burners: stereotypically New Yorker-pleasing baseball jokes (though Brits will likely miss these references), quick-edits between the best scenes with Steve Coogan, and some excellent cameos. Rounded off with a brilliant gunshot car-chase finale, The Other Guys finishes strong in the manner in which it began.
With a little more patience and a looser cast, it could have been brilliant. As it stands, The Other Guys is a buddy-cop spoof with too little action whose great moments are overshadowed by a mediocre middle.
The Other Guys is released in UK cinemas this Friday, 17 September.